Health, Wellness & Safety
Microchipping & ID Tags
A microchip is one of the best methods for recovering a lost pet and allows shelters and vets to quickly access an owner’s information. Ensure your contact info stays up to date, and keep an ID tag with your current phone number on your pet for a better chance at a quick return.
Lost Pet Resources
In the event of a lost pet, begin your search immediately. Put out fliers, search the area the pet was last seen and post on Nextdoor or social media sites. Submit a lost report on stllostpets.org. Contact or visit local shelters in case they’ve been dropped off. Remember that microchipped pets and those wearing tags have a much higher chance of being reunited with their owner. Visit our Lost & Found page for more information.
Spaying & Neutering
The importance of spaying or neutering your pet cannot be overstated. It slows population growth, curbs undesirable hormone-related behaviors, such as roaming and fighting, and reduces health risks. It’s also a money-saving alternative to the cost of caring for future litters.
Grooming salons, boarding facilities, and dog parks typically require vaccinations to keep all clients healthy, but even your front yard can be an opportunity for infectious diseases to spread. Discuss essential and recommended vaccinations with your veterinarian, including a legally required rabies vaccine.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
FIV is a virus that can weaken a cat’s immune system. The disease isn’t curable, but most FIV+ cats live ordinary lives full of naps, cuddles (and plenty of cattitude). It’s spread via deep bite wounds, mating, and genetics, but can’t be transmitted via close contact, grooming, shared litter boxes or bowls. FIV+ cats can live with FIV negative cats, and the disease is not contagious among people or dogs.
FIV+ cats can be more prone to dental problems, and in some cases, are less able to defend themselves against other diseases. It’s important to maintain regular vet exams and ensure up-to-date vaccinations. Most secondary infections are treatable if addressed in a timely manner.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
FeLV infection is found in around 4% of felines, and among those cats, not all are affected in the same way. Some fight off the disease and never acquire, known as an abortive infection. Others are exposed, but remain asymptomatic carriers. Such regressive infections can remain latent for long periods, but become a progressive infection later, which leads to a weakened immune system.
Unlike FIV, FeLV is highly contagious to other cats, but not humans or dogs, through saliva, bite wounds, urine, blood, feces, nasal secretions, and from mother-to-kitten feeding. Cats with FeLV should be kept indoors, and are best for homes without other cats.
Ongoing consultation with a veterinarian is important for felines with FeLV, as are routine vaccinations and exams. With proper care, FeLV+ cats can live normal, meaningful lives. For more information on this manageable disease, visit here.
Emergency & Disaster Preparedness
Be sure to include pet supplies with your emergency preparations, including extra leashes, pet food, medications, and a list of vaccinations. Have local, pet-friendly shelters in mind in case you have to leave the area, and remember that if it’s not safe for you to stay, it’s not safe for your pet either.
During winter holidays, be mindful of tree decorations. Most ornaments look like toys to cats and ingesting tinsel can cause serious health issues. Be wary of traditional holiday plants such as mistletoe, lilies, and poinsettias, as ingesting any of these can cause serious health issues or even death. Alcohol is also dangerous and should never be fed to pets.
Depending on your dog’s size, coat, and breed they may need different precautions in winter weather, such as shorter time spent outdoors. Salt can cause pain or irritation to paws and should be washed off. Cars may leak antifreeze and it should be cleaned up immediately, as it’s lethal to both dogs and cats.
During the summer, if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them. Don’t leave your pet in the car and make sure they receive plenty of water and shade when outside. Time spent in the heat may need to be limited based on your dog’s age, breed, and coat. Be mindful of letting your pet run through an unfamiliar grassy area, it may have been treated with fertilizer or pesticides. During 4th of July celebrations, ensure your pets are secured indoors as they may find fireworks scary and seek a place to hide. Even if your dog normally doesn’t run away, they should be leashed during potty breaks.
Assistance animals include two categories, service animals and emotional support animals. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks and fall under the guidelines of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and as such, must adhere to stringent rules regarding their training.
Emotional support animals, also known as therapy animals, provide aid and comfort to their owners. Medical documentation must be provided for an animal to attain emotional support status. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not limited to dogs and require no training or registration.
Pet Food Resources
There are options available to assist pet owners during times of financial hardship. The Bistate Pet Food Pantry has the mission of keeping people and pets together during financially difficult times through emergency pet food assistance. Food distribution events are held monthly. If needed, the APA may be able to assist with one-time supplemental food or other supplies. Support is provided solely based on availability of supplies.
Purina Pet Food Finder
Selecting pet food from hundreds of options can be incredibly overwhelming. We recommend Purina’s easy to use Pet Food Finder. It’s a smart and simple tool that matches you with the right food based on your pet’s age, weight, breed, activity level, and preferences.
Death and Grieving
Saying goodbye to a beloved animal is one of the most heartbreaking parts of pet ownership. At the APA, we understand how difficult this can be and we’re here to support you.
Deciding to say goodbye to a pet is a difficult decision, and it can be hard to know when “right time” is. Our veterinarians can help you understand your pet’s condition, so you can make the most informed decision.
We offer humane euthanasia services in our Clinic. And while we welcome and encourage you to be present, it’s not required. We understand the difficulty of this decision and can allow you as much time as you need to say your final goodbyes.
The APA works with an accredited pet crematorium to offer affordable cremation services. Our team can answer any questions you have about cremation at the time of euthanasia, and if desired, will discuss having your pet’s ashes returned to you.
Tributes and Memorials
For those wanting to pay tribute to the life of a pet, we offer engraved tags that hang on a structure in front of the APA for one year. At the end of a year, we’ll return the tag to you for safekeeping.
Pet Loss Support
It is natural to feel grief following the loss of a pet and the grieving process is a personal one. Reaching out to others who have also lost a pet can be therapeutic. Maintaining your normal routine will help not only you, but your surviving pets as well. Seek professional help if needed.
It’s natural to feel sadness following the loss of a pet and the grieving process is a personal one. Don’t ignore or suppress your emotions. Reaching out to others who have also lost a pet can be therapeutic, as can maintaining your normal routine. For your sake, and that of any surviving pets, please seek professional help if needed.
We are not affiliated with any pet loss support group, but have assembled a set of free resources that can help you navigate your grief:
Lap of Love Pet Loss Hotline: Hotline for those anticipating or grieving the loss of a pet.
United Way 2-1-1: 24/7 service for locating support and resources in the community.
Behavioral Health Response: Local, 24/7 crisis hotline with mental health professionals.
MU Veterinary Health Center Pet Loss Support: Pet loss support and grief group counseling.
Helping Children Grieve
For adults, losing a pet is difficult in its own right. And explaining the passing to a child can add more complexity to the pain, especially if it’s their first time losing someone. This article can help you break the news to your child, and offers tips in helping them cope.
Sometimes books make tough explanations a little easier. Here is a list of recommended children’s books that may be helpful.